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Young lives, parenting and families

What does it mean to be a child, young person, or parent today? How is childhood and youth shaped by society and culture, and how do current ideas about parenting compare with those of the past? What is the impact of gender, disability, geography and inequality? How can we best support families? This module takes an interdisciplinary approach to exploring these issues, drawing on a range of data, research and audio-visual material. It will develop your study and employability skills and provide you with opportunities to debate issues with academics and other students.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

The study material for this module is organised into 8 learning guides, which include audio-visual material and online and print-based readings:

Learning Guide 1 – begins to examine the range of factors that influence the experiences of children and young people today. Issues that you will explore include what makes a ‘good childhood’, the impact of disability, discrimination and racism on children and young people, and the effects of poverty and inequality. You will also consider the issue of resilience and the factors that support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Learning Guide 2 – considers how the society and the community in which children and young people grow impacts on their experience and determines their life chances. You will be introduced to social policy and examine how it has changed across time, and look at theories of social and cultural capital that can help to explain social mobility and inequalities. You will also examine a range of data and research as a basis for developing your understanding of structural inequalities.

Learning Guide 3 – focuses on practice, and explores how practitioners work together to support children, children, young people and families. You will consider the opportunities, as well as the potential challenges, presented by multi-agency and inter-professional working, and look at ways in which values, ethics and legal frameworks inform practice in this area. You will also examine some of the ethical dilemmas that practitioners may encounter, and ways in which they deal with ethical dilemmas in their practice with children, young people and families.

Learning Guide 4 – focuses on children, in particular children from 0-11. Issues that will be examined include constructions of modern childhood and children’s agency. You will also consider ways in which practitioners work with children to support their rights and encourage their participation.

Learning Guide 5 – looks at the particular experience of being a young person, and ways in which the experience of youth has changed in recent years. You will examine diversity, discontinuities and continuities in young people’s lives, including from young people’s perspectives. You will also consider the implications of change for the professionals who work with young people, and the central importance of young people’s rights.

Learning Guide 6 – focuses on parents and parenting, and relationships between practitioners and parents. You will consider a range of perspectives on parenting, including what it means to be a ‘good parent’, and look at case studies and research related to the intersection of parenting and society. Issues examined include the role and function of parenting support and education, for example, the targeting of specific parents, parenting classes for ‘troubled families’ and the role of informal support and online communities. Children and young people’s perspectives on parenting will also be explored.

Learning Guide 7 – examines the family and family structures and considers ways in which social and economic change is impacting on families. It also looks at the experience of children and young people living outside their ‘birth families’, and their experience of the care system.

Learning Guide 8 – will support you in reviewing your learning over the course of the module, and help you to prepare for the end of module assessment.

Vocational relevance

This module will be relevant if you are currently working with children, young people, parents and families, or if you have an interest in moving into this area of work. It will also be relevant if you have a general interest in issues related to children, young people, parenting and families.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will provide support and guidance throughout your studies and mark and comment on your assignments. You’ll have the opportunity to attend a number of learning events over the course of the module. Learning events may be face to face or online and will be led by your own tutor as well as other tutors from the module team.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

There are 4 compulsory tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

3 TMAs will be essay based, requiring you to demonstrate your understanding of material from the module and your developing ability to think and write critically. 1 TMA will ask you to put together a visual presentation. Each TMA will be between 2,000 and 3,500 words in length.

An end-of-module assessment will cover the key themes and issues from across the module. This will be in the form of an extended piece of writing.

Future availability

Young lives, parenting and families starts once a year in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 3 module. It’s designed to build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2, or equivalent study at another university. Level 3 modules are specifically written for students who are working towards a degree level qualification. Your previous higher education study does not have to include study in a relevant curriculum area (e.g. early childhood, childhood and youth studies, or health and social care). A general interest in issues related to children, young people, parenting and families will be of great value.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End Fee
    - - -

    No current presentation - see Future availability

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 14/11/2018.

    What's included

    A module website which provides a range of online resources including a study calendar, module guide, assessment guide, and 8 learning guides, with audio-visual material and links out to other readings. Online forums, learning events and access to an extensive OU library. Also includes a print-based module resources book.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying KE322 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.